Ivan Zaytsev vs Brazil | Volleyball Nations League 2018 (HD)

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Kraljevo, Serbia, May 26, 2018. In the 66th encounter between Italy and Brazil it was the Azzurri captain who consistently made the difference when it mattered. While setter Simone Giannelli expertly provided the ammunition, more often than not it was Ivan Zaytsev who finished the points that resulted in an important 3-2 win for Italy (18-25, 25-19, 25-21, 24-26, 15-8).

After scoring 20 points against Germany, Zaytsev was in equally fine form scoring 32 points across the five sets. A true showman, the crowd enjoyed him jokingly asking for a challenge after serving a ball into the back wall of the hall. Blengini Gianlorenzo will rightly say that his team should have got it done in the 4th set, but Brazil came fighting back and forced the tie-breaker. However in the deciding 5th set there was really only one team that were going to win as Italy dominated throughout and it was fitting that their setter crafted the final point to take the win with a reverse one handed tip shot.

Whilst their star players will rightly take most of the plaudits, in truth this was a real team performance from Italy with players across the board producing when it mattered. Evidenced by the ace count, where they outscored Brazil 14-7, and had five players registering two or more aces in the match.

The Brazilian starting line-up brought four changes (three plus the starting libero) from their opening win but regardless they started as they had left off against Germany. Brazil have now won the first set in each of their last 14 matches at major world level, however unusually they failed to convert on this occasion. Mauricio Borges Almeida Silva top scored for Brazil with 14, who showed a far greater spread of their points across the nine players who started sets, as the coach continued to switch things up.

This match may just be one of 120 in the Round Robin Phase of this inaugural Volleyball National League, but it also a rematch of both the Athens 2004 and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games final. These two teams may well face each other again in the competition, but that will be further down the road. Next up Brazil will face Germany tomorrow, followed by Italy against Serbia.

Brazil led at both the technical time-outs (8-5 and 16-14) in the first set, largely due to the middle power provided from Isac Santos. Apart from some exquisite moments of brilliance from Simone Giannelli, Italy were not really in the set from start to finish. Then up stepped Brazils Leonardo Ferreira Do Nascimento for his first involvement in a world level competition and he did not disappoint, delivering an ace straight to the floor to secure the first set by 7 points for his side.

The second set was where Ivan Zaytsev and his side really got going. They came out unchanged in personnel, but there was a complete change with their intent. Brazils coach switched things up as the set approached double figures, bringing on setter William Arjona and their top scorer from their first match Wallace De Souza, subsequently taking the setter to the back row. However, the Italian lead just continued to grow – halted only briefly by a monster serve from Isac Santos measured at 122.4 kmph. The set ended with a touch being called by the Challenge system off an Osmany Juantorena spike, much to the disbelief of the reigning Olympic Champions Brazil.

The third set started with one of those points that you can watch again and again, with both teams scrambling around and showing invention in equal measure. Make sure you check out the match replay for the rally starting at 1-2 to Brazil in the third. That point went the way of Brazil and so did the first part of the set. Italy clawed their way back and a hat-trick of aces from their captain established a lead at 13-10. Gabriele Nelli came on in the twenties and matched the feat of his captain earlier in the set by scoring a hat-trick of aces and with that the set was pretty much secured – it ended 25-21.

Trailing 1-2, Brazils coach Renan Dal Zotto resorted to his tried and tested six from their first match win against the Germans and in the early part of the set it seemed to make the difference. As the set grew on, so did the confidence of the Azzurri. But in the twenties their structure seemed to desert them and despite saving a couple of set points some powerful blocking from the team in Gold took the set for them 26-24 to level the match.

The fifth set was generally a tense affair, but through the composure of Giannelli, the power of Zaytsev and with Juantorena coming more to the fore they had an 8-3 at the change of ends. Italy powered on and there was no way back for Brazil – even with their so-called strongest team on the court for the conclusion.
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Volleyball

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